Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: Nani backs Ronaldo to conjure magic and blast Portugal into last eight

By Phil Blanche

Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to take Euro 2016 by storm, according to his Portugal strike partner Nani.

Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure in Portugal's opening two matches but found his goal touch with a brace in the 3-3 draw against Hungary.

That result secured a last-16 showdown with Croatia and Nani is confident their star man can fire them into the latter stages of the tournament. "Everyone knows Cristiano and what he can do at any time, in any minute in a game," Nani said.

"I am 100 per cent sure he will go on and score more goals now.

"No one can say anything against him. He is a fantastic player. He showed it again against Hungary when everyone was talking about him - he has shut them all up now.

"I think Cristiano has always been there, always playing well for us throughout the tournament."

Despite some faltering displays against Austria and Iceland and a third-place finish in Group F, Nani insists the squad is ready to face an impressive Croatia side. "Any team we play, we must believe we can win so it doesn't matter who we will face now," he said.

"It will be difficult against Croatia. They have one day more than us to rest but we are professional, so we will get a quick rest and prepare for the game."

Portugal have won all three of their previous meetings with Croatia without conceding, but are up against a side unbeaten in 10 games.

Croatia coach Ante Cacic feels his team could not have faced much tougher opposition but is confident they can handle Ronaldo and co.

"At this stage of the competition there is no easy opponent, but we have got maybe the toughest," he said.

"But, we were in the hardest group of the tournament and we managed to progress so there is no reason that we won't go into this match without confidence.

"We respect Portugal, but we believe in our quality, togetherness and character which we have shown until now."

  • Portugal v Croatia, Euro 2016 Round of 16: Lens, Today, 8.00pm

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